Alabama vs. Iona Betting Guide: Odds & Pick for This NCAA Tournament Matchup

Alabama vs. Iona Betting Guide: Odds & Pick for This NCAA Tournament Matchup article feature image
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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Jahvon Quinerly.

Alabama vs. Iona Odds

Alabama Odds -17
Iona Odds +17
Moneyline -2000 / +1050
Over/Under 147
Time Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
TV TBS
Odds as of Saturday afternoon and via DraftKings.

Nate Oats of Alabama has transitioned into the modernized style of basketball better than any other coach in the country with his analytical approach to offense.

The Crimson Tide takes layups or 3-pointers with very few attempts in the mid-range. If the Tide get hot from outside, they could have Rick Pitino throwing in the towel before halftime.

The Iona Gaels had one of the most challenging paths of any team to the NCAA tournament. They’ve faced multiple COVID-19 disruptions in their season and missed 68 days total, including 17 before the start of the MAAC tournament. They were still able to hoist the conference trophy as the No. 9-seed — a huge accomplishment considering what this team has been through.

They will have a monumental challenge in front of them in the first round taking on Alabama, which has shown the ability to run teams out of the gym.

Pitino will need to use some of his magic in March if the Gaels want to stay competitive against the No.2 seed Crimson Tide.

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Alabama Crimson Tide

Collin Wilson: The Crimson Tide finished as the top 3-point shooting team in the SEC, plus it ranked 11th nationally in perimeter defense. The “3-and-D” is used heavily in the NBA but has worked well for head coach Nate Oats in his second season.

Alabama’s shot charts are a dream for the analytics crowd.

The Crimson Tide want to play fast and score in transition. When they’re in the half-court, they want to utilize dribble penetration to either get to the rim or kick it out for a shot from beyond the arc. Alabama did deal with some inevitable regression down the stretch after an unsustainable early pace, but it’s still an excellent shooting team.

What has been even more consistent has been Alabama’s defense, which ranks second in the nation in Adjusted Efficiency, per KenPom. This is an elite group of defenders by any metric that’s capable of carrying the Crimson Tide on their off-shooting nights.

Alabama is a legitimate Final Four contender because of its defense. The offense remains a very high-variance unit since it does shoot 3-pointers at a top-20 rate nationally. If the shots are falling for six consecutive games, the Crimson Tide can win it all. If not, they could get upset, especially by a team that can slow the game down and contain

Alabama’s dribble penetration in the half-court. Keep your eyes on the status of starting freshman guard Josh Primo, who left the opening game of the SEC tournament and never returned through the championship.

Iona Gaels

Kyle Remillard: Pitino is sending his fifth different team to the NCAA Tournament after the Gaels won the MAAC tournament as a 9-seed — Louisville and Kentucky not making the tournament is just icing on the cake for Pitino.

It was a challenging season for Iona, which was affected by COVID-19 more than any college basketball team in the nation, having to shut down for 51 days in December and then another 17 days just before the conference tournament started.

The Gaels won the MAAC tournament despite being dealt a 9-seed — conference seeding was based on total wins rather than winning percentage. They started slow against both Quinnipiac and Sienna but did enough in the second halves to secure the wins. Iona faced the 7-seeded Fairfield Stags in the finals and were able outlast them, 60-51, in a sloppy game.

The Gaels are led by senior guard Isaiah Ross, who has averaged 18.4 points per game. Assisting him are senior guard Asante Gist and freshman forward Nelly Junior Joseph, who are both averaging double-digit points. Ross and Gist produce most of the offense for the Gaels, scoring 41.7% of their total points this season.

The Gaels faced off against only one team that was ranked 150th or better this season in Seton Hall. They lost by 22 points. Now they have a monumental challenge in the first round facing Alabama, which plays with a top-10 tempo and looks to get out and run every opportunity they get. The Crimson Tide are a deep team with 3-point shooters all over the court.

Pitino’s magic should run out in the first round, but they don’t call it March Madness for nothing.

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Matchup & Betting Analysis

Kyle Remillard: This is a nightmare matchup for the Gaels who are so reliant on their two guards to produce most of the offense. Alabama’s defense is athletic, versatile, and should lock down both Gist and Ross.

If those two can’t get clean looks like they did in the conference tournament, I’m not sure where they will get any offense from. The Gaels also have had issues with taking care of the basketball, and any turnovers that come against Alabama will almost certainly be turned into points.

Alabama will look to get in transition off of every Iona miss with its Top-10 ranked Tempo. Each player on the floor for the Tide should be able to win their 1-vs-1 matchup, which should create a plethora of open 3-point attempts. For a team that has seven players who shoot better than 33% from behind the arc, that’s a recipe for a blowout.

Give Pitino some credit for the run he made with this Iona team through all the COVID-19 interruptions the Gaels faced. I’m backing Alabama and laying the 16.5 points, a number I see the Crimson Tide covering in the first half if their 3s are falling.

Pick: Alabama -16.5 (Up to -18).

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